Today Dave Wannstedt spoke about the depth chart and two things became abundantly clear -- 1.) He went way out of his way to try and make sure everyone who didn't win their respective competition for a job stayed happy (he used a lot of phrases like "they are all going to play") and 2.) He really is holding his breath and hoping that the quarterback play is going to be better than what we've seen in training camp.
But first, let's talk about the only real entertaining part of the entire thing and that was a somewhat entertaining exchange between the ultra-agressive WXDX morning guy Tim Benz and Wannstedt about the "training hours" issue. That issue is of course brewing up at Michigan, which is not a surprise because Rich Rodriguez has not exactly done a Dale Carnegie impression since he arrived in Ann Arbor about 20 months ago.
The exchange was just about to get interesting when Benz asked his second follow-up question, something like "did you see any evidence of this kind of cheating at West Virginia when Rich Rodriguez was there."
Unfortunately, Wannstedt didn't bite and blew the question off (the entire exchange was of course whitewashed off the official transcript which is provided by the athletic department) and when Pitt sports information director E.J. the D.J. Borghetti jumped to the front of the room it was clear there would be no more questions heading down that road.
Whether you like Benz's style or his show, you should be glad he's around these parts because there are just so few guys left who aren't afraid to throw a few fastballs high and tight during an interview, no matter who is receiving the questions. Benz knew he had no chance of getting his questions answered and frankly, when you ask questions like that about controversial subjects 99 times out of 100 you probably won't get an answer and often you will get a media relations type to jump in.
But those questions are important to ask because maybe, just maybe, the person you are interviewing will actually answer them and hand you some good stuff to write.
So now that we got journalism 101 out of the way, here are some of my other thoughts about the developments today...
1.) In the end, Chris Jacobson just made a few too many mental errors for Dave Wannstedt's comfort level. Joe Thomas is a senior, is more experienced and is just not going to make the kinds of mental mistakes that have held Jacobson back. He is getting better, he is getting closer and I do believe he'll get a shot this year. But for now, Thomas will be the starter and Jacobson will be a highly-talented player who is struggling to get on the field.
2.) It says everything you need to know about what is holding Elijah Fields back that he earned Wannstedt's praise for having "two good days in a row". Fields should play a lot Saturday but that is a long way from now and as it is he'll be part of a three-man rotation, with Dom DeCicco and Andrew Taglianetti, for two safety spots.
3.) Shayne Hale should be the third defensive end but he isn't Brandon Lindsey is. Why? It is simple, Hale can only play on one side (I'm fairly certain it is the right) and Lindsey can play both sides. Hale, like Lucas Nix (who can only play right tackle) and Jacobson, has tons of talent and should be a big-time player but he has some work to do in terms of learning some things and becoming more versatile in order to get on the field.
4.) Dan Mason will play a lot Saturday and will continue to get more playing time each week provided he's productive and doesn't make too many mental errors. Wannstedt said simple -- he's the real deal.
5.) The fourth receiver spot is going to be a situational work in progress all season. There are fast guys, small guys, a tall guy, quick guys, guys who run good routes all competing for that spot so the player who wins the job will be the one who gives the Panthers the best matchup against the defense they are facing.